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Migrant workers gathering around the Caritas information tent at the Shousha Camp.
Danielle Leblanc from Secours Catholique –Caritas France reports from the programme Caritas has set up at the Tunisian-Libyan border to help stranded migrants fleeing the conflict in Libya in their repatriation process.
Shousha Camp, Ras Ajdir, close to the Tunisian-Libyan border
They are there every morning and until late in the afternoon, surrounding our information tent. The three cultural mediators from Caritas Bangladesh and its partner OKUP always have a lot of work. When is the next flight? When can we go back home? That is the only thing the migrants really want to know. Continue reading
Buses to transport people out of Salloum. Credit: Caritas Switzerland
By Fred Lauener, Caritas Switzerland, reporting from the Egyptian-Libyan border, where Caritas is distributing emergency aid to migrants fleeing the unrests in Libya.
Read the original blog in German
Yesterday, a lot of people had to pack their stuff at the Salloum border camp. Salloum looked like a crowded, badly-organised coach station. Dozens of buses were obstructing the access to the camp. There has been a lot of movement here in the last days. A lot of people could finally leave.
Among them were many of the young men from Chad who were by far the biggest group in the camp. A lot of them had come to Salloum not only because they had lost their jobs but most of all because they were fearing for their lives. Young black Africans are under general suspicion as Gaddafi mercenaries. Continue reading
Credits: Fred Lauener/Caritas Switzerland
Fred Lauener from Caritas Switzerland arrived in Salloum on the Libyan-Egyptian border on Thursday to support the ongoing Caritas emergency aid distributions for migrants fleeing the violence in Libya. Here are some of his accounts from the last days. (Read his original blogs in German)
“Today, there have hardly been any migrants arriving at the border in Salloum. Maybe that is a consequence of the no-flight zone that was decided yesterday. We don’t know yet. The tension among the Chadian migrant workers however, who have been stuck here for up to two weeks, is growing. Some of them have been on hunger strike and refusing liquids since this morning. Another group armed itself with sticks and demanded to speak to embassy representatives. They want to go home! We are trying to calm down the situation.
“Yesterday, I travelled to Salloum from Kairo. The trip by bus and taxi took me about eleven hours. I came to Salloum to join colleagues from CRS ( a Caritas member) and help them with emergency food distributions. I was told that in the previous days, a few hundred Libyan families and Egyptian migrant workers were passing the border every day, but that there were only around a dozen people from other nationalities. These last can’t enter Egypt since they don’t have a visa and so they are stuck at the border camp in Salloum and need to be taken care of until they can leave. At the moment, around 3000 people are receiving food, hygiene articles and medical care in Salloum. Continue reading
Migrants can call their families for free on arrival through Caritas and its partner OKUP. Credits: OKUP
Caritas Bangladesh and its partner organisation OKUP are providing assistance to Bangladeshi migrant workers fleeing the social unrests in Libya on their arrival at Dhaka airport. Returnees are given some money, food and transport facilities to reach bus terminals or railway stations. While Caritas asked about his needs, 32-year-old construction worker Salim told them how he witnessed the fighting.
“When I left the capital Tripoli the situation was very bad. I saw a lot of demonstrations and fighting. The protesters against Libyan President Qaddafi were carrying rifles and machine guns and the repression from the army was very tough. I saw people get beaten and we could hear shots.
“I didn’t feel safe there anymore, the situation was very dangerous. As a foreigner, you had to be careful not to be drawn into the unrest. My mobile phone and some money were stolen, but apart from that, I was lucky nothing happened to me.
“Luckily, I could get a flight home quite quickly. I had to deal with everything myself though, my embassy didn’t help me at all. And then it took me two days to come home because I had to change flights twice, first in Jordan and than in Qatar. So I am really, really tired now, but very happy to be with my family back in my home district Kishorgonj in the North-East of Bangladesh.
“My wife saw the unrests on TV and was very worried about me. I could reassure her by calling whenever I could and telling her I was fine, but she is glad to have me back here now.
“I have been working in Libya for a total of four years and only come back for visits to Bangladesh. My wife stayed in Bangladesh and last year, our daughter Anise was born, so working in Libya and sending home money was a good way for me to support my family. I didn’t like working there though. There is so much repression. Now, I will stay with my family for some time and then I will see where I can go next for work.“
Available in French
Caritas staff Suzanna Tcalek and Sébastien Dechamps met Hassen and his family during their evaluation mission at the Tunisian-Libyan border. (See an account of the mission and view more pictures)
“Hassen runs a little commerce in the city of Mansura some three hundred kilometers from the border. He has mobilized a collection between his fellow citizens and after four hours on the road he and his family have reached the camp this morning with his little truck stuffed with food parcels. A distribution is set up quickly, the organization in the camp is loose and today the distribution points have multiplied around the new convoys that are steadily arriving. “This is obvious: these people need help and we all can do something…while waiting and hoping the situation in Libya will have a positive ending”. He knows Caritas, or better he knows Secours Catholique-Caritas France: once a migrant worker in Nice he got to know the acceptance centers and the generosity of volunteers. Later on in Tunisia he has undergone through difficult times again: “In the remote villages in the hinterland of Tunisia we know hunger. How can we not help these refugees today?”.”
Un immense élan de solidarité à la frontière tuniso-libyenne
Suzanna Tcalek et Sébastien Dechamps, membres de l’équipe d’évaluation de Caritas, ont rencontré Hassen et sa famille lors de leur mission à la frontière tuniso-libyenne. (Voir un compte-rendu de la mission et plus de photos.)
« Hassen dirige une petite entreprise dans la commune de Mansura, à trois cent kilomètres d’ici. Il a organisé la mobilisation des habitants de la commune, et est arrivé ce matin avec sa famille, après quatre heures de route dans le pick-up chargé de nourriture. Une distribution se met rapidement en place, l’organisation du camp est assez souple, et aujourd’hui les points de distribution se multiplient un peu partout autour des convois qui arrivent. “Cela va de soi : toutes ces personnes ont besoin d’aide, nous pouvons tous faire quelque chose … en attendant et en espérant que la situation en Libye évolue bien”. Il connaît Caritas, ou plutôt le Secours Catholique-Caritas France : autrefois travailleur migrant à Nice, il a connu les centres d’accueil et la générosité des bénévoles. Plus tard, en Tunisie, il a aussi connu des temps difficiles : “Dans les villages reculés, dans la Tunisie de l’intérieur, nous avons connu la faim. Comment ne viendrait-on pas en aide à ces réfugiés aujourd’hui ?” »
Credits: Sébastien Deschamps/Secours Catholique-Caritas France
Available in French
A Caritas assessment team made up of staff from Secours Catholique-Caritas France and Catholic Relief Services (CRS is a US member of Caritas) assessed this weekend the needs of migrant workers stranded on the Libyan-Tunisian border following to the social unrests in Libya.
View pictures from the mission.
The team sent the following account from the border:
“The team arrived in Ras Ajdir on 5 March and went straight to the border to count the number of people crossing. Compared to the previous days, the number was fairly small, around a few hundred people. Most of them were from Bangladesh, the others were Egyptians, Libyans or from other African and Asian Countries. Continue reading